Prime Minister, Allen Chastanet, has predicted that it will take “a couple of months” for the agriculture sector to recover from the ravages of Tropical Storm Matthew.
He feels that Saint Lucia must do a better job of preparing for such weather events.
Chastanet spoke ahead of a meeting with the Minister of Agriculture, Ezechiel Joseph, at which he expected to receive a report on the measures to be undertaken to get the industry back on its feet.
“We are committed to making that happen,” he said.
The Prime Minister reiterated that there is need to rebuild agriculture to make it “substantially” more resilient.
He explained that his administration believes that storms will be recurring events.
“Things like drainage – looking at the bridges that we have, because we are seeing the same things repeated in all the different constituencies – the debris is coming down; the water is not flowing fast enough and getting clogged by bridges which then is causing the water to flow out of the river banks and having an impact on the farms and people’s homes” Chastanet stated.
He recalled that the last time the Malgretoute river was cleared was in 1981.
“Cul de Sac river – all these rivers, the same thing is occurring,” Chastanet observed.
He said as part of the desilting programme the mouths of the rivers will have to be opened up.
Chastanet noted that forests keep encroaching on the river bank and when there is heavy rain it causes larger trees to collapse, creating a bigger problem.
“We have to do a better job of preparing ourselves for these storms because we can’t keep re-inventing the industry every time we have a major storm” he declared.
Chastanet noted that on some banana farms, big trees acted as wind breakers resulting in less damage to banana crops.
“I think that is something that has to be taken into consideration,” the Prime Minister explained.
But he said it would not happen overnight.